You got your ass up for the gym (or skipped happy hour for it), are dropping dough to be there, and killin’ it in your fly performance gear. So why screw yourself (and your bod) when it comes to the actual workout? Our fitness expert Cara Weaver demonstrates the do and don’ts when it comes to some basic core postures so you don’t sabotage your skinny goals. (All photos taken in the lovely Flybarre room at Flywheel Atlanta, where you’ll find these moves and so many others to transform your body.)

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Ever feel intimidated in a fitness class or at the gym?  All of us have been there, but nothing screams “I don’t know what the F I’m doing here!” more than a plank or pushup that’s a hot mess. Boost your gym confidence (and get better results while avoiding injury) by practicing correct form for these standard moves you’ll find in most classes and training sessions.

PLANK/AB BRIDGE
The good ol’ plank is what I call the FLAT TUMMY MAKER!  It works your transverse abdominals as well as your rectus (six-pack muscles), helping to stabilize your spine and create a strong core (SCORE!). There are two variations of it:

Do it right:
plank correctGet into a high pushup position with your hands in line with your shoulders. Keep a neutral head and spine; think about a long straight line from your head to your toes. Focus on the feeling of pulling the belly button into your spine to support your lower back.

 Do it wrong:
plank wrong 1

plank wrong 2Letting your back curve up or dropping your hips isn’t strengthening your abs and is putting unnecessary pressure on your shoulders and/or back.

Do it right:
ab bridge correctStart on your knees with forearms on the floor, elbows below your shoulders. Lift your knees off of the floor and straighten your legs. Follow the same rules above with a straight spine and pulling your belly button into it.

Do it wrong:
ab bridge wrong 1ab bridge wrong 2You put pressure on the shoulders by lifting your hips higher (first photo). Don’t allow the low back to collapse from fatigue by relaxing the abdominals and sinking towards the floor (second photo).


V-UP/BOAT
This move, found in Pilates and barre classes, works your lower AND upper abs, back, and even thighs! However, do it incorrectly and your lower back will be screaming at you.

Do it right: 

boat correctPull the abs in and flatten your stomach to create a crease in your hips for the “V” to form. Keep your back straight, chin up, and chest proud. Balance on your tailbone and practice lifting your hands straight out in line with your knees without compromising your form, then further by straightening your legs (if you can).

Do it wrong:
boat wrongYou’ll feel pain in your hip flexors and lower back if you round out your back and strain your neck forward to hold you up. And don’t lift your legs until you’re ready!


CRUNCHES

You know ’em. You love (to hate) ’em. Crunches/sit-ups are the easiest and most popular form of abdominal work focusing directly on burning out and sculpting those six-pack muscles.

Do it right:
situp 2 correct
situp 1 correctPlace hands behind your head for support. Keep elbows out wide and chin up (imagine a tennis ball under your chin). Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the floor straight up. And SLOW DOWN; the slower and more controlled the better. If you’re lift your legs to work the lower abs more, keep them at a 90 degree angle.

 Do it wrong:
situp 2 wrongsitup 1 wrongMake sure not to pull your elbows in front of your face with your chin to your chest (or pull your legs in). And don’t move too fast, using momentum to get up; you could strain something, plus you won’t be working your abs.


LEG RAISES

This handles your stubborn lower abs like a boss. It’s a tough one, so doing it right is mandatory or you will just get frustrated…or hurt.

Do it right:
leg raise correctStart on your back with your legs together extended straight up in the air, making a 90 degree angle with your body. Place your hands on the floor, below your sacrum (the bone at the bottom of your spine) with your shoulders and arms pressed firmly into the floor and belly button drawn into the spine. Keep your tailbone planted into the floor and lower your legs to 45 degrees. Lift your head and hold.

Do it wrong: 
leg raise wrongDon’t arch your back just to hold your legs closer to the floor! You will no longer be working abdominal muscles. Instead, lift your legs a little higher, bend your knees, or put your hands closer to/under your butt for more support.

Do these moves right and you’ll be getting tight! You’ll feel your tummy muscles strengthening, instead of your back and shoulders aching and be able to increase reps/length of hold as time goes on.

It’s a sure core thing.

Want to get to know Cara? Check out her website to “make healthy happen” or take one of her Flywheel or Flybarre classes.

Comments

  1. […] burpees, lunges, squats, runs, sprints (short bursts done in twos), pushups, planks, and crunches (click here for proper plank/pushup/crunch […]

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